Cost of the Cloud Gets Real

Prepress costs have increased for many printers since Adobe dropped its Creative Suite in favor of an online subscription service named Creative Cloud. The popular graphic suite that includes InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Acrobat is now available only through an online subscription. Previously some print shops had skipped updating to the latest versions to avoid upgrade charges. Under the new subscription model, there will be a monthly charge to use the programs.

Users now pay $10 to $50 a month for the cloud service, depending on which applications they want. New customers will pay $49.99 monthly, while owners of CS3 through CS5 products can get the new cloud service for $29.99 monthly for the first year. If users want to subscribe to a single software program instead of the entire suite, it will cost $20 monthly for new customers or $10 a month for existing customers. The yearly costs will run from $240 to $840 per year. For a higher unit price, a user can subscribe to a program for a single month.

Unlike most cloud programs, the applications will reside on the user’s computer. Users will need to be connected to the Internet once a month for verification and updates. Any files created by the program will be maintained on the user’s computer. At the end of the subscription period, the application will be turned off. A subscriber can put the application on two different computers as they can now with the boxed version of Creative Suite.

 

Driving Change

With the rapid migration over the past year of more than 500,000 users to Creative Cloud, printers who did not keep up with upgrades were falling behind a large portion of their customers. Subscribing to the Creative Cloud will keep a printer current and should avoid version problems.

Creative Suite 6, the current version of the desktop-based offering, will still be available from Adobe for purchase, but it will not be updated beyond routine maintenance. All new features will go to the Creative Cloud version. Printers who stay with the boxed version may find it difficult to work with customers who are using the newest cloud version.

According to Adobe officials, cloud users will not be forced to upgrade with each new version of the software. They can continue to run whichever version of the software they prefer until they are ready to upgrade. A current version of the product can be used for one full year after the subsequent version is released.

Adobe cited several advantages to users to move to a subscription model. The software will have regular feature updates, so there will be no more waiting 18 to 24 months for a major upgrade. Users will no longer have serial numbers to keep track of and issues with lost activations will disappear. Installations will become easier and sync preferences will keep all computers under the subscription uniform. Subscribers will also get access to applications to create content for websites, tablets, and smartphones

 

Answering Criticism

The company faced vocal criticism of the move in the first weeks of the announcement and some experts predict Adobe will be making changes to the subscription service. Several user websites, blogs, and Facebook sites have voiced opposition to the change as well as starting a petition drive.

Some critics of the new model believe Adobe is bullying users because of its market strength and that the new model could backfire. They point to QuarkXpress’ position in the market before Adobe introduced InDesign and how quickly users migrated to InDesign because of Quark’s poor service and arrogant response to customers’ needs.

The move has also increased discussions about alternatives to Adobe products. Quark, Corel, and even Microsoft Publisher could see a bounce in business because of Adobe’s move.

Markzware already sells an InDesign to Quark conversion program for users who want to switch. Other graphic programs that work with Adobe file formats are being explored by users.

For most printers, it will be hard to make a change, particularly if they work with customers who use the Adobe products. The issue underscores the need for printers to charge appropriate prices for their typesetting and design to cover their costs. Upgrading and maintaining prepress software should be part of the cost considerations for pricing. Raising prepress and design pricing will make the increased software costs a non-issue.

 

John Giles is a consultant and technology director for CPrint International. He is the author of “12 Secrets for Digital Success” and “The DTP PriceList”. He can be reached at 954-224-1942 or john@cprint.org. You can also find John on Twitter at @JohnG247 and LinkedIn. Read his blog at MyPRINTResource.com/blogs/john-giles. Order John’s books from Crouser & Associates (MyPRINTResource.com/10004688).

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